Water Backup Coverage For Homeowners

A woman sitting on the floor of the bathroom working on the sink

Water backups can be a pain. No matter if an appliance malfunctions and starts pumping water into your kitchen, or you find standing water in your basement from a sump pump failure, cleaning up the result is costly. Water backups and sump pump overflows are something you need to be prepared for, and thankfully, there are easy steps you can take to cover your bases. 

Even if you took the extra step to get flood insurance for your home, you might be surprised to learn that water backups aren’t always protected under these plans. But by adding water backup and sump overflow coverage to your policy, you’ll rest easy knowing your home is fully protected.

Key takeaways:

  • Water backup coverage includes water removal, construction materials/labor and replacement costs for items and structures damaged from accidental water overflow.
  • Water backup coverage has a set limit (typically from $5,000 to $7,000), and is not a part of your main dwelling coverage.
  • Depending on the amount of water backup coverage you select, you’ll pay anywhere from $30 to $200+ each year.

What is water backup coverage?

Water backup coverage is an endorsement option that protects against damage to your home or personal property because of water that backups through sewers, drains, and discharges or overflows from a sump, sump pump, or related equipment.

You aren’t alone if you’re concerned about this. Most homeowners add on this policy because of how damaging water backups can be — repairs typically need floorboards, walls and furniture to be replaced given the unsanitary conditions of the water.

What does water backup coverage include?

Water backup coverage includes water removal, construction materials/labor and replacement costs for items and structures damaged from accidental water overflow. There are various circumstances that can cause water to flow back into your home, many of which a traditional water backup insurance policy covers:

  • Blockage in city pipelines
  • Gutter system backup around your home
  • Malfunctioning appliances
  • Old or damaged sewers or drains
  • Overflow from a sump pump
  • Tree root growth

Since water backups and overflows can create unsanitary conditions, this coverage will help you pay to remove any standing water, replace your belongings, repair the structure of your home and remove any mold growth caused by the overflow. It also supplies you with loss of use coverage, so that you have a place to stay if your home can’t be lived in for some time.

What does water backup coverage not include?

Since everyone’s insurance is different, it’s recommended to check with your insurance company on what is and isn’t covered in your water backup policy. Generally, though, there are several instances of flooding and water damage that the policy won’t cover (no matter who your insurer is):

  • Any water damage caused by a natural disaster such as a flood, thunderstorm or hurricane
  • If you’re worried about natural disasters, it’s a good idea to get a separate flood or hurricane insurance policy (and it’s even required in some states and high-risk areas). 
  • Intentional acts that caused flooding inside your home are never covered.
  • Sometimes water backup policies won’t cover the replacement costs or repair or the source of the overflow.
  • Cause determines whether or not it’s covered. If an issue outside of normal wear and tear, such as owner negligence, caused the overflow, it won’t be covered.

Water backup coverage vs. flood insurance

While the damage caused by water backup and floods can be similar, the insurance policies for these perils are not. Water backup coverage is specific to issues caused by systems inside or near the home, such as sewer lines, appliances, sump pumps and drainage systems. 

Flood insurance only covers flooding from natural disasters like a flood from a rainstorm or overflowing body of water. Though both will help you recover physically and financially, it’s important to understand the difference between the two so you know which policy best fits your needs.

Water backup coverage is specific to issues caused by systems inside or near the home, while flood insurance only covers flooding from natural disasters.

Do I need water backup coverage?

Water backup coverage is recommended for all homeowners, as the cost per year is low compared to how much in repair and replacement costs you’d be facing in the event of a backup. If you have an older home, you have a sump pump on your property or your city has a history of sewer issues, getting this coverage is a must.

It’s important to note that water backup coverage has a set limit (typically from $5,000  to $7,000), and is not a part of your main dwelling coverage. Some companies even have a separate deductible for this endorsement, so it’s important to double check with your insurance agent how much you’ll be on the hook for.

The water that pools up in your home is often filled with harmful materials and bacteria that can affect the health of your family. Instead of having to tackle the water removal and repairs yourself, water backup coverage can help keep your family safe by paying for a professional service and providing a clean place to live while the repairs are completed. A total win-win.

How much does water backup coverage cost?

Though your insurance agent can give you an approximate price of water backup coverage based on your current policy and age of your home, average costs for this endorsement are pretty standard across the board. Depending on the amount of coverage you select, you’ll pay anywhere from $30 to $200+ each year.

This price is pretty low when compared to the average cost of repair issues from water backups. As most homeowners know, replacing furniture is costly, but updating pipes or sump pumps is even worse. Depending on the damage, repair from a water backup can cost several thousand dollars, making a small annual payment well worth it.

How do I prevent water backups?

The best way to save money and protect your home is to prevent water backups from happening in the first place. By properly maintaining your home and its systems, you can help reduce your risk of water backups and keep your belongings safe. Below are some great ways to prevent water backups that you can add into your cleaning routine.

  • Regularly clean out your gutters and downspouts
  • Run your sump pump every few months
  • Raise appliances and other electrical equipment a few inches off the ground in your basement
    • This will help keep any flood water away from expensive appliances
  • Install back flow valves on your irrigation and water systems
  • Use waterproof storage containers to protect valuables stored on the ground
  • Add smart home devices throughout your home
    • Water leak detectors can notify you of small leaks in your pipes
    • Smart water shutoff systems allow you to turn off your water remotely in case an overflow happens when you’re not home
    • Temperature and humidity sensors can alert you to any changes to your home’s climate

Recovering from water damage

Once water damage occurs in your home, there are some important steps you need to take immediately to make sure the issue is resolved quickly. First, you’ll need to take pictures of the damage and its cause. If necessary, you can ask your insurance agent or an inspector to take a look to determine the official cause. All this information will be helpful when you submit your claim for insurance coverage.

While the claim is taking place, it’s important to focus on mitigating any further damage. Remove standing water and molded surfaces immediately, so that your home can begin to dry out. Installing dehumidifiers, opening windows and cleaning regularly are also good ideas to help prevent further damage or mold.

Water backups, and the accompanying damage they bring, can wreak havoc on your home’s structure and your personal belongings. And unfortunately, it’s not always covered by your standard homeowners insurance policy. But with some routine maintenance and a water backup endorsement, you can set this worry aside and focus on turning your house into the home of your dreams.